Tag Archives: big-tech

Seeing Your Work

On my first job out of school, I was told to design an instruction decoder for a microprocessor.   It was a complex block for the early 80s, taking all of 30,000 transistors, and it occupied one whole corner of the … Continue reading

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Russians Get It Done

The Sep 2010 issue of IEEE Spectrum has a nice example of how  determination beats technology.  The article is  “A Digital Soyuz” by James Oberg, and discusses how the Russians have upgraded their main manned spacecraft.  They’ve replaced the main … Continue reading

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The Population of Other Hostile Places

In the last post I calculated that the current population of outer space was about five, if you added up all the person-years spent up there.  What about other difficult places to live? Under the Ocean This was another of … Continue reading

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The Population of Space

The SF writer Charlie Stross recently wrote on his blog about the absurdity of self-sufficient space colonies (“Insufficient Data”).  He noted that it takes an extraordinary number of people to maintain a technological civilization, because even the most common artifacts … Continue reading

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Plating the Planet With PV

So I see from this report from GreenTech Media that the worldwide production of photovoltaic (PV) cells is due to pass 10 GW this year.   That’s a kind of random milestone, but to put it in perspective, that’s about 2 … Continue reading

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One Catastrophe and One Annoyance

A few weeks ago there were two serious industrial accidents –  the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on 4/20/2010 and the MWRA water main break in Boston on 5/1/2010: At first sight, the Boston break … Continue reading

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Hubble and the Triumph of ROI

A few days ago, April 24th, was the 20th anniversary of the launching of the Hubble Space Telescope.  arsTechnica celebrated with a nice article here, from which I will shamelessly lift this famous picture: This patch of the sky is … Continue reading

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The Awesome, Yet Easily Controlled, Power of Nature

io9.com recently posted a nice set of pictures here, of Niagara Falls being shut off for maintenance  in 1969 by the Army Corps of Engineers.  Here’s what they looked like from Prospect Point when off: And here’s what they look … Continue reading

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